Kearns • Michael Stewart couldn't hear what play coach Mason Fox wanted to call, so with the crowd roaring, the senior right fielder walked down the third-base line and approached his coach, asking for the play to be repeated one more time.
Fox asked Stewart if he could drop down a bunt with Luke Crosby on third base in the bottom of the eighth inning. He asked Stewart if he could execute a suicide squeeze in extra innings to send his Cowboys to the Class 2A semifinals Friday afternoon against Emery.
"We had to kind of do something," Fox said.
So Stewart lowered his back and anticipated a high fastball from Grand County pitcher Koi Cook. He leaned back and pushed the ball along the first-base line.
Crosby sprinted home, slid in safely and emerged from a thick cloud of clay to punch Kanab's ticket to the winners bracket semis with a 5-4 victory.
"I knew it was going to be something nasty, but it was a suicide squeeze, so I knew I had to get something down," Stewart said.
It was the most dramatic moment of a dramatic game in which the Cowboys always were playing catch up. Grand took an early 2-0 lead in the first inning. Kanab equalized in the bottom of the second on a single by Dan Ramsay.
Red Devil catcher Preston Walston gave his team the lead in the top of the third with an RBI double. Kanab second baseman James Anderson matched with an RBI double of his own in the bottom of the third.
Each team scored once more in the fifth inning to knot the score 4-4, but that's when the game turned stagnant. Cook and Kanab pitcher Chase Adams settled in and began to rack up strikeouts and pitch out of trouble.
Adams pitched eight innings and finished with nine strikeouts, but he said afterward that Stewart's game-ending suicide squeeze numbed his arm.
"After that walk-off," he said, "it just felt like nothing."
Fox figured his group had nothing to lose in the bottom of the eighth, and that's why he rolled with the risky call with his senior No. 9 hitter.
"It was the right guy with the right guy on third," he said, "and that's just the way it goes."
Class 2A state tournament
Friday at Kearns High
4:30 p.m. • Emery vs. Kanab
11 a.m. • Millard vs. Parowan
1:30 • Grand County vs. Beaver